Lighthouse Learning Pvt. Ltd. (formerly EuroKids International Group) (estb.2001) caters to 1.5 lakh students in its 1200 plus preschools and 44 K-12 schools. Helming the fast-growing network is Prajodh Rajan, Group CEO and co-founder, Lighthouse Learning. As schools across the country open their doors to students once again, Rajan emphasises the need to formulate plans to tackle further disruptions. After all, “Closing schools should be the last option for the government,” he tells Dipta Joshi of EducationWorld.
Q) How did the third wave of COVID impact EuroSchools?
A) 400 of our preschools across the country were operational by December 2021 before we had to pull out of physical resumption again due to the third wave of COVID. The opening of schools and preschools across Maharashtra has been welcome news and we are looking forward to resuming in-person instruction at most of our preschool and K-12 campuses in the new academic year (2022-23). We continued with our online instructions during schools closure.
Q) Tell us about the open school concept for the EuroSchool in Bangalore.
A) We have been operating EuroSchools in Bangalore for about eight years. The Bannerghatta school, in proximity to the Bannerghatta National Park is our fifth school in the city. We reimagined the Bannerghatta campus differently since it is situated on a five-acre property amid fruit bearing trees and a stream running through the campus. We imagined a school that provides students an opportunity to engage with nature. The project will be the first of its kind ‘nature inspired school’. 70 percent of the construction is completed and it will be operational from the new academic year starting June 2022.
Q) Are you also going to bring in changes to the school’s curriculum?
A) The Banerghatta campus will follow the CBSE curriculum offering classes from nursery to grade VII this year. Progressively, the school will have classes till grade XII. As a nature-inspired school, the art classes will be held in rooms with glass walls allowing students to be inspired by nature The EuroSchool at Bannerghatta will be our first day-boarding school allowing children to also participate in extracurricular, co-curricular and remedial classes at the school premises from morning till evening. The cafeteria will serve and promote healthy meal habits among our children.
Q) Is the school prepared for a hybrid learning model?
A) We have been prepared for online schooling since a long time. We invested in a Learning Management System (LMS) with content before the pandemic struck. Therefore, we were able to offer virtual schooling within 10 days of schools closure. The same system is in place here too. While the day-boarding concept will only be possible in a physical setting, we have conducted music, art, debates, IT and coding skills even during the online phase.
Q) As an educator, what is your opinion on school closures as a response to COVID?
A) We cannot be in a perpetual state of emergency and thus need to formulate a clear plan as to how we (schools) will deal with further disruptions of this nature. This is not the last of the variants, there could be other pandemics or disruptions but closing schools should be the last option for the government. Unfortunately, we made it the first option and state governments have shut down schools the moment there is a rise in COVID cases.
We need to arrive at a clear policy as to when and at what point we should physically shut schools. This also has to be a consistent policy taken at the national level. School closures impact the country’s growth. Over the next five or ten years, we will have a large cohort of students who will be educationally disadvantaged at a huge economic cost to the country.
Q) How can we minimise the learning loss of the last two years?
A) I think we should think about learning loss in the context of what we want to achieve for the future. We should reassess our curriculum since we have much to cover up. A vast majority of schools have not been able to teach children during the pandemic. So rather than the breadth of the curriculum, we should readjust the curriculum giving children opportunities to catch up. Once they catch up, we can readjust and build the curriculum going forward.
Q) So you are saying the educational boards need to undertake the reassessment?
A): I believe the state and central boards would have to consider the curriculum reformation, as well as reassess the existing assessment systems. Currently, the curriculum, content and pedagogy are driven by assessments so once we reimagine assessments, the pedagogy reimagination will follow through.
Q) What are your expansion plans for the future?
A) While we are inspired to have more schools like the EuroSchool Bannerghatta, it would largely dependent on securing similar properties. Eventually, by 2024 I believe we will have about a total of 12 CBSE and international schools in Bangalore alone.
The pandemic did alter some of our plans, as we had planned for this expansion in the last two years itself. However, we continue to focus our expansion in cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
We will continue our growth through this pandemic putting up new campuses. We are not looking to make our schools smaller or move vertically. In fact, we are working to develop more of the nature-inspired kind of schools with sprawling campuses. We’ve learned many things from our remote learning engagements so far and will now embed those into our new programmes.Campus, News